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Sarasota Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 7 months ago

Demolition makes way for Rosemary District's first park

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The Rosemary District Association met at the corner of Boulevard of the Arts and Central Avenue last Wednesday, where the area's first park is set to be built.
by: Blake Fussell Staff Writer

Demolition crews were present and working to remove structures at the corner of Central Avenue and Boulevard of the Arts last week, where Rosemary District Association members met to celebrate the space that will soon become the area’s first park.

Two vacant buildings, formerly a restaurant and office building, were demolished to make space for what David Lough, a Rosemary District Association board member, called a pocket park. The pocket park will serve the community until a permanent park is constructed.

“The previous owner had occupancy for six months so it took the city a while to get to demolishing it,” Lough said. “Now they’re going to irrigate it and sod it as a temporary measure. And currently, the design of the permanent park is under way.”

The Rosemary District is home to about 3,500 people and has been growing according to Lough. He said the community will decide what the permanent park will look like through an online survey.

While the design of the permanent park has yet to be decided, the Rosemary District Association has already worked to make the park a reality. The park will be city funded but it required a special effort from the community, according to Lough.

“When this land was bought, the neighbors chipped in $120,000 of our own money,” Lough said. “The city would only pay for the land’s appraised value and the previous owner wanted more than that. So we had to close that gap ourselves.”

The sodding and irrigation project under way is expected to be complete in early March. The community has been able to watch progress on the park through a live webcam embedded into the Rosemary District Association’s website.

Meanwhile, the community has continued to vote on what the park should look like. The online survey gives the community threes options between an urban, artful or tranquil design.

“The first thing we have to do is get a design, you know, an outline. I think the money will be there,” Lough said. “We’re getting input from the community on what they like best and expect construction to start in six to nine months.”

Each design idea has a different balance between natural and constructed amenities. Regardless of which deign is chosen, the park will provide lighting, green space, natural and constructed shade structures and the infrastructure needed for community events.

The online survey has accounted for a large number of options, down to which type of grass is preferred, the priorities for how space is used and which type of structure would match the park’s atmosphere best. For Rosemary District Association President Debbie Trice, she is simply excited to see a park in the area.

“I’ve been in the Rosemary District for five years and in Sarasota for 25,” Trice said. “I’m originally from New York City and I figured Sarasota would have more green space than the middle of New York City and that hasn’t been the case.”

“This park has been a dream for quite a while,” Trice continued. “I anticipate that when it’s done, coming to this park will become part of a daily routine to meet up with the community and to meet new people.”

The park design ideas were created by designer Kimley-Horn. The Rosemary District Association has provided a video detailing each idea on its website.

The Rosemary District Association will meet at the future park location again in March but a date has yet to be determined, according to its February newsletter. The monthly newsletter is available online for the community to view at any time.

“We’re so excited to finally start seeing progress,” Trice said. “The property values in the Rosemary District keep going up and up. With the appraised value not matching what the owner wanted, more than 150 people contributed to make this possible. This is truly going to be a neighborhood park.

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